While plenty of people on the space coast and around the world stayed up to watch the SLS rocket take flight for the very first time on the historic Artemis 1 launch, that 1:47 a.m. ET liftoff wasn’t ideal for those who wanted to catch some sleep. But we captured the launch of Artemis 1 in slow motion from the press site, so whether you missed liftoff when it happened or just want to relive the moment, you can do so.
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Capturing Artemis 1’s launch
Engine shot: Gear
We used a variety of tools to capture the launch, ranging from expensive cinema cameras and telescopes down to simple GoPros. We shot in a variety of frame rates and resolutions to capture the shots we were looking for. In order to capture details of the flame from the press site, I used my Sony FS5 MII cinema camera attached to a 1,900mm reflector telescope. I then set the video resolution to just 1080p which then allowed me to record at 240fps.
Slow-motion engine shot
Wide liftoff shot: Gear
I also shot some of my footage on two Z Cam E2-M4‘s. These micro 4/3 cinema cameras offer 120fps at 4k, letting me capture higher resolution slow motion. For the first of these cameras, I had a quite simple setup. It was simply attached to a Sigma 150-600mm lens on a tripod.
Because the camera has a smaller sensor, when connected to the lens it’s the equivalent of a 300mm-1200mm lens. This camera stayed stationary throughout the launch. I started recording a few minutes prior to ignition, and let it run until I was done tracking.
Wide, slow-motion SLS launch
Telescope tracking shots: Gear
Some of my favorite shots from launch are the ones I captured through my telescope, and with it being computerized I can follow the rocket throughout its flight. It’s by far the most complicated part of my setup. I have my second Z Cam E2-M4 mounted on the back of a Celestron 8SE computerized telescope. However, the telescope itself cannot track the rocket, so I have to connect it to my computer and, using some outstanding software created by Astronomy Live, control the motion of the telescope using a joystick and throttle, like those used for flight simulators.
Telescope tracking Artemis 1 launch
Misc. other gear
In addition to those big setups, I also used a ton of other gear – including some things as simple as older smartphones. I set my iPhone 14 Pro up with a cheap sound meter to capture the general idea of the perceived loudness of the launch from the LC-39 Press Site. I also used GoPros to capture the environment around me, and my own perspective during the launch. Finally, I used an old Z Cam C1 placed behind me to capture my silhouette as the rocket lit up the sky in a way the Space Coast hasn’t seen in years.